Notes about a novel: desire YOUR feedback!

I want your help with some ideas.

I’ve been musing about the structure of a possible novel. I think the opening will have a woman killed in a hit & run “accident.” Prior to her death, she and the story’s main character would have met every morning in the last month during their daily exercises. Though the “hero” doesn’t know it, she’s intentionally bumping into him, trying to discern if he’s trustworthy. Part of how the “hero” will begin to realize she may not have died accidentally will be based on some of the brief conversations they had during their morning encounters. He will recall several key, troubling comments or questions she asked him.

But first, I need them to get to know each other.

If you met a stranger, say on a morning walk/run, what would you say to get a conversation underway? Maybe there will eventually be a little flirting, but I wonder about authentic questions and comments that help two strangers know each other, and make them look forward to the next day’s brief sharing.

What might you ask or say?

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  1. I would have a more clear reason why they started up a friendship , not just met by chance. So the guy is out jogging, and he sees up ahead a gal, maybe 20 feet away, and he is the type who is very competitive and hates that he can’t close the gap on her, and finally he kicks into another gear, passes her and then about a quarter mile later he has to stock jogging, cause he is seriously winded and has stitches. He is bent over trying to catch his breath when he sees the gal coming, she miles at him knowingly and continues on. The next day he does it again, and again he has to give up. He does this four straight days and NOW has caught the gal’s interest, so when she approaches him bent over, she stops and runs in place. She tells him he CAN go further and must if he is to grow. So he gets up and keeps jogging at his normal pace and she slows down and runs at his pace and they start talking, first topic would be why he felt the need to pass her, how long she has been running, any marathons, all running talk at first because that is the natural approach and this is a stranger…eventually the conversations get more personal, and one day he tells her, I think I can pick up the speed a bit, and she says okay and now they are moving in tandem together and he is holding his own. But 100 yards out from where they usually stop, the guy goes into an all-out sprint because he wants to beat her. To his dismay, she doesnt try, just keeps running at the usual pace and finishes several seconds later and says: Feel better? (that you beat me). And he laughs and says, pretty macho childish, huh? She shrugs. Your a man, I expected that. He laughs and says, want to go for juice or something. And thus it begins, a relationship based on competition and emphasizing the difference between most men and women.

    1. Good ideas, Nathan. Just this morning, I was riding my bike and saw a woman ahead of me. Had to catch her. Had to pass. Finally had to take a break a few miles later. She pedaled by, whoosh and gone. I was mostly sucking up oxygen and memorizing the ground.

      1. Larry,
        When I used to swim laps at health club in the afternoons many years ago, an elderly lady got in the pool and started doing laps. She kept up with me. I was so insulted I swam as hard as I could to crush her. I am extremely competitive and HATE to lose at anything. That is why I no longer play competitive sports, because the purpose of exercise is to relax, and when I’d lose, I was totally bummed out. I don’t think it is a man thing, just a competition thing. I’m sure gals who play organized sports are the same way, especially the pros.

        1. “Thus,” the wise master said to impetuous youngster, “you must choose activities where you will lose and become humble.”

          “If you can beat me two out of three times in arm-wrestling, I’ll try your old ways.”


          They wrestle twice. Each one wins a match. As the two clench hands for the third battle, the wise one aims his crooked walking stick at the youngster’s feet and tickles the lad into a laughing frenzy. Wisdom beats impetuousness.

  2. interesting..good start..wonder where it is have my attention and that means it is a “good thing”. I would start by them seeing each other a couple of times and then have a flat tire or have another person have a conversation about this cool guy she met while exercising and how she wants to stop and talk but doesn’t have the courage to just come out and say it…so many ways you could go here. It depends how the characters are going to develop..some kind of riddle or fate brought them together..They have coffee at a place they drive by every day..Their bikes are parked next to each other at the coffee shop and therefore foreshadowing that there is going to be some kind of relationship..if it is running, biking..or they just end up there together..she could be clumbsy and when she got her bike , it fell and knocked his, if he is a nice guy , he would tell her no problem and ask her for coffee..since they have seen each other a few times would be natural to start up a conversation..hmmm..Then if they had the same routine of going to the coffee shop and getting water or coffee after the work out or in between at the same could say “see you tomorrow ” and as this goes on , they start to sit together and talk

  3. If you wished to be adventurous, make your main character a woman, or make them both men. Whichever of the three (four actually, but two are PROBABLY equivalent) possibilities you have, there are three different “getting to know you” openers. There is also a huge difference in the social background of the two. If both are happily married, running in the morning is probably a means of getting away for an hour (I think there was a commercial like that a while back). If both are lonely, and the jogging trail may be a source of contacts, you have an entirely different dynamic. But both are likely to be a faster connection than if one is with family and the other is lonely. The family person will want to be left alone, and will be distrustful of the intruder. So, in steps your deux ex machina, and you have the one with the reason to be left alone get a blister, and the new person is a nurse, or at very least is a more experienced jogger, and has a stash of moleskin in their fanny pack. That forces the two of them together for a few minutes and, even better, it makes the “wanna be alone” person to walk the rest of the way instead of running. OK, that opens up a whole new topic. Moleskin gal knows a lot she can teach the newbie. She’s a regular Colin Fletcher in warm-up pants. Oh, then there’s the touching as she applies the moleskin. There is a perfectly delicious scene in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited where a cigarette is passed between Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte, as they are motoring down an English back road. where “just a hint of sexuality passes between them…” What was the question again…

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